Doing More with Less: A New Diet for a New Year

01.05.11: Leo's 31st Month

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Sometimes, I revel in how…typical… our life feels. Our two year old is a true, biting screaming, outerwear-defying terror. Aaron and I argue passionately about cleaning the toilet, but can’t stay pissed (ahem) because we have a massive Netflix Mad Med addiction to feed. And, like everyone else, we’re on a fancy New Years health kick. In fact, to my embarrassment, we just joined a second gym (the first has kids programs but is too far away, we just weren’t going regularly).

When we’re not busy working out—a little, a few times a week, as best we can, we really are trying, give us credit!—we’re cutting out a lot of foods, doing our own elimination diet, to see if this has any positive effect on Aaron’s frequent headaches. While we’re at it, we figure we’ll take a more conscious, healthy approach to food overall, and become aware and deliberate and cleansed in that special 2011 way. Food writer/blogger Jennie Rosenstratch over at Dinner, A Love Story, is also embarking on a food “challenge,” as she calls it. She, her husband and their girls are giving up meat, sort of, for two weeks, which she wishes were a month (I guess the girls balked). Her experience really resonates with me.

“[L]imiting meat is sometimes the easiest way for me to feel healthy and inspired about cooking again. I know this sounds strange, but when I leave meat out of the equation, it forces me flex other culinary muscles a bit more. I have to work a little harder to make things taste good and usually I end up discovering some random ingredient like, say, tamarind paste that I can’t believe I’ve lived almost four decades without. (Also, invariably, I end up eating too much coconut and avocado.)” she writes.

For us, not eating bread, not eating refined sugar, and not eating dairy is not only a good shot at figuring out what triggers Aarons frequent headaches, it’s also a surefire way to remind ourselves to think every time we eat. No grabbing a yogurt. No slapping together a sandwich. We’re setting up the rice cooker the night before so I can have brown rice with sesame seeds and tamari for breakfast. We’re cutting up endless piles of veggies for ratatouille, salads, braised greens, and crudités for snacks. So while we are eating some meat, and grains like polenta, quinoa, and ask-me-next-week-maybe-we’ll-give-millet-another-chance, we are mostly eating a LOT of veggies. And you know, it feels great. I’m even getting used to the soy-rice milk in my coffee. Mostly.

What Jennie says about eating a ton of avocado and coconut is so true though. I can give up dairy, and sugar, but still somehow I find myself eating ice cream. What Jenny says about how this stretches a person’s culinary reach is true too. Who knew that you could make a tasty frozen dessert in minutes using a food processor and a bag of frozen strawberries?! Here’s to a January of fresh food discoveries!

Happy New Year!

Recipe: Instant Strawberry-Coconut Sorbet

Zoe Singer is a freelance food writer and cookbook editor and co-author of The Flexitarian Table. Food Editor and blogger for The Faster Times, she tries not to eat for two now that her son is a toddler.